New Favorite TV Show: “Say Yes To The Dress Big Bliss”

This weekend, I had a bookcase to assemble. So I turned on the television hoping to find something fun and mindless to watch while I tried to decipher Ikea assembly instructions. I am normally very anti-wedding shows—I don’t like how they play into the fairytale of weddings and put all the focus on spending an extravagant amount on one day rather than on working hard to make a relationship work every day. But for some reason, I decided the thing to watch was a marathon of “Say Yes To The Dress: Big Bliss.” And I would now like to declare this my new favorite guilty pleasure show.

The series follows the wedding dress consultants of Kleinfeld’s boutique, which has one of the largest collections of plus-sized wedding dresses out there, as they help brides—sizes 16 through 30—find the perfect wedding dress. So why am I so obsessed with this show? Because it is the only series I can think of where larger body types are shown—and they are there to be appreciated rather than changed, a la “The Biggest Loser.” Seriously, that is pretty revolutionary. About half of the women on the show obviously have a good body image and come in knowing they want a dress that shows off their cleavage, their butt, their waist-to-hip ratio, etc. And it’s so refreshing to see that confidence rather than an already slender woman beating herself up over needing to lose weight.

For the other half of the women on the show, body image is an uphill battle. Many of them have an extreme phobia of shopping, like bride Crystal in the video above, who says she hasn’t worn a dress in 20 years, hates looking in the mirror, and had heart palpitations about the idea of trying on clothes. For these women, the consultant has to do therapy, too. They have to show them that their body isn’t “wrong” and that there is a dress out there they will look amazing in. I watched five episodes of this show this weekend, and have yet to see a woman who didn’t find a dress she looked dynamite in. And seeing a woman who struggles with body hatred look in the mirror, feel gorgeous, and have that moment of self-acceptance—it’s pretty touching.

But there’s another reason I love this show. I think one of the sneakiest ways body hatred works is by subtly equating fat with unlovable. This show is proof of how false that is—it literally shows that love happens at every size. For every bride on the show, their fiance is interviewed—and it’s not often you hear men talk about the women they’ve just asked to marry them. (Usually, we get the commercial dichotomy of the guy who just wants to drink beer and watch sports and his nag of a wife.) These men are so doting, it’s heart warming. Some of these grooms are larger, too, but many aren’t. In fact, I developed a major crush on one drool-worthy guy who was marrying an adorable and hilarious size 26 woman who, he said, “takes my breath away.” Sigh.

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